Tag Archives: quilting

Use calipers to measure sashing and first border.

Quilt Borders and Sashing Using the Golden Mean

The Golden Mean and Calipers

Finding the perfect width for your quilt’s borders and sashing is easy if you use the Golden Mean.  If you aren’t familiar with this term, it refers to a sweet spot in the middle, between 2 extremes.  It divides a space so that one side is a bit larger than the other in a way that is harmonious and pleasing to the eye.  Also referred to as the golden ratio, it occurs often in nature.  To find this division of space, I love to use my Golden Mean Calipers.  As the calipers open and close, the center point, always indicates the Golden Mean, and two harmonious inner spaces.  

large and small Golden Mean Calipers

large and small Golden Mean Calipers

These calipers are available in the Creativity Tools section of my web store.

Perfect Borders Using the Golden Mean

Adjust the Golden Mean Calipers to measure the width of a quilt block

Measure the width of your block.

This tool is also useful when adding borders to a traditional block quilt.  One method is to start with the blocks themselves.  Place the outer points of the calipers at the edges of the blocks.  This will give you two new measurements that will be in harmony with the blocks. 

Use the larger measurement for the total width of the border. 

Use the larger of the 2 inner golden mean measurements for the finished width of the full border.

Create a single border matching the wider measurement of the calipers.

Divide this area further by placing the outer points of the calipers on the edges of the border area.  This will indicate pleasing widths for an inner and outer border. 

Divide the border area using the calipers.

The golden mean indicates the optimum width of borders and sashing.

Create harmonious smaller borders.

All measurements indicate finished sizes, so don’t forget to add seam allowances.

Perfect Sashing Using the Golden Mean

Use the golden mean to determine the width of sashing, as well as borders.  The smaller inner border width, determined above, is also the perfect width for sashing.  Sashing is used  between and around all of the blocks, and it serves to set the blocks apart for the purpose of highlighting each as an individual unit.

Borders surround the grid of blocks and visually hold them together.  Sashing adds to the visual weight of the grid layout, and creates the need for a larger border to maintain balance. Combine the width of the sashing and the single border to create a harmonious, larger, outer border, as shown below.

Use golden mean calipers to measure sashing and first border.

Measure sashing & border

Golden Mean Calipers indicate width of an additional border

Calipers indicate width of additional border

Borders and Sashing for a Predetermined Quilt Size

Sometimes, a specific finished size is necessary and the process described above will exceed those limits.  In this case,  if you know how wide the full border needs to be, but you want to break it down into multiple borders, the golden mean is a good way to do that.  Open the calipers to the full border width, and use the two inner measurements for multiple border widths.

No calipers – No Problem

You can also determine harmonious measurements without the calipers by using the magic number: 1.6.  Take any measurement.  Determine a larger size by multiplying by 1.6

Example: 5 x 1.6 = 8 

Conversely, divide by 1.6 to find a smaller measurement.

Example: 5 ÷ 1.6 = 3.125 (Round down to 3 inches)

Learn More in My Color & Composition Class

Interested in learning more? Every month I lead a Color and Composition class where we explore a color scheme, color concept, and a composition concept.  We meet online  the 4th Saturday of every month 1:00-3:00 PM MDT. To join us, sign up through the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.

Subscribe to this blog for future summary updates on topics covered in the Color & Composition class.


Let’s Make Faces

Look what I did!

I hope you are enjoying a beautiful summer: picnics, camping, swimming, baseball…

But, when you are ready to come in, cool off, and do something creative, I invite you to join me in a portrait quilt class or workshop.  There are spaces open in these locations:

CraftU Courses are once again open for registration: 

 August 13 – Brigham City Museum, Brigham City, Utah.

Jo's self portrait

Jo’s Self portrait

September 30-October 2, 2016 – Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival, LaConner Quilt & Textile Museum, LaConner, Washington

October 15-16, Jukebox Quilts Store, Fort Collins, Colorado

Portraits on Parade

Portraits on Parade


“Portrait Quilt Workshop” Sat-Sun, October 15-16, 2016. Call (970) 224-9975 for more information.

January 19-22, 2017, Road to California Quilter’s Conference, Ontario, California


Golden Mean Calipers Part 2: Crop a Picture

This is my second video on how to use the Golden Mean Calipers.  This week I show you how use them to crop a photo around a focal point so that the outer dimensions are harmonious and the subjects in the composition are well placed. These calipers are available in my web store.  If you find these videos interesting or helpful, subscribe so that you get notified whenever I post a new one.  I’m trying to do this once a week until I run out of things to say—like that could ever happen.

Calipers video part 2

calipers 2


Bike Boys Ride a New Machine

After a week of taking care of other responsibilities, I’m back to work on the Bike Boys.  Today I loaded them on the long arm quilting machine.  This was no small task since pieces are still coming loose.  

In addition to the backing and batting, I’ve inserted a layer of painters canvas under the Bike Boys appliqué.  This will help to stabilize the piece as it is stitched.  A layer of fine tulle netting goes over the top.  This will keep all of those raw edges from getting fuzzy and will help to hold the small bits in place as I stitch.  Because of the difficulties with the fusible, I did not wrap the the appliqué layer around the bars of the frame.  I was afraid it would all come apart.  

The most time-consuming part of the process is getting rid of all those little bits of thread and fluff.  I have to carefully run a lint roller over the surface, and then over the tulle.  The tulle seems to have a lot of static electricity so things keep jumping back on to it.  

Finally, it is all pinned in place and lint free.  I’ll wrap up this work session by doing some outline stitching around various spots, just enough to hold all the layers in place as I roll the composition back and forth when the real thread-painting gets started tomorrow.

All goes well, until I stand back to appreciate my progress and what do I spot??  Two little what spots of lint trapped under the tulle.  



On the Other Hand

Not quite right?

Back home and unpacked, my attention returns to the artwork.  I want to update you and the Gold Miner’s hand.  I’ve done a bit more work and thank that they are finally right–just right!!

To review, a few weeks ago I finished a new piece, with the exception of the figure’s hand.   Here is how it looked then:

 I’m striving to better understand the use of value, temperature.  Initially, I used cooler threads for the hand in the background and warmer threads for the hand in the foreground.  The contrast was too great and the back hand looked necrotic.

Much better!

Realizing that I needed to blend  threads from each hand into the other, I searched for more information.  Jim, my husband and live-in art teacher, gave some instruction and guided me through observations of my own hands.  I studied hands painted by old masters such as Titian, and Raphael. Then, it was time to re-attack. 

Keeping  in mind the direction of the light source, and reflected light from the water, as well as the tissues under the skin such as bone, muscle, or veins, I went back to work.  I think these new hands are a big improvement and I’m declaring this piece finished!

Now, it’s time to turn my thoughts and energy to the next new piece:  six guys on a bike.  Check back and I’ll keep you posted on the progress.